Thinking Through Evangelism to KidsWednesday, July 27, 2005
In a yesterday's post on Bibleman and the Gospel, a piece of wonderful feedback was left by someone named "T." He writes, " I've been following God into some evangelism lately and I'd like to hear some ways you present the gospel to kids on the street, people in suburbia, etc. " After typing my response to him, it was long enough to where I thought it deserved a post all its own. Perhaps this will also answer Candleman's feedback who asked questions along a similar vein.
Thanks for the kind comments. As far as presenting the gospel to kids on the street, suburbia, etc. I'm still working it out. I've grown up in a program-oriented version of Christianity - AWANA, Royal Ambassadors (SBC), typical youth camps, etc. So I myself am in a sort of transition out of program-oriented stuff into relationship-oriented stuff.
There are two kinds of gospel presentations in the NT, it seems. Those which took a while, developed through and built on relationships and raport (such as Paul in the synagogues Sabbath after Sabbath reasoning with the Jews), and those which were done 'on the spot' (such as the Philippian jailer [though he heard the gospel being sung and preached in Paul and Silas' cell!] , some of whom Jesus healed, et. al.).
As I see it now, Jesus' command to 'go into all the world and make disciples,' is to be more accurately understood (according to the Greek), "Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them...teaching them...And while you're going into all the world, make discpiles...baptizing them...teaching them..." The verb in the context is 'make disciples,' and the word 'go' is actually a participal which modifies the original verb. Therefore, in our going throughout the world, wherever we find ourselves, we are to make disciples.
Now, that process takes place through those two kinds of gospel presentations I talked about earlier - the presentations through relationships and raport, and the ones done on the spot. What that means for the question at hand - as far as ministering the gospel to kids now - both common sense and a sensitivity to the Spirit are required to determine how best to minister the gospel to a particular kid.
If it seems that in God's providence that a relationship can and will be formed out of an encounter with someone, then great! I build on that, weaving the gospel in everything I do and say, so that eventually the difference I hope they see in my life and my family's life, as well as the beliefs they hear us talk about, will coax them to ask questions and perhaps come to Christ.
If, on the other hand, I come across a kid whom it seems I may never have another opportunity again, reasonably speaking of course, to talk to again, I think an 'on the spot' offer of the gospel is important (such as at a Bibleman live adventure!).
But through it all, making a focused intent to love everyone with whom I come into contact - I mean genuine, authentic, serving, self-sacrificing love - is the kind of love God showed to the world, and therefore the kind of love I must also show to the world.
Thanks again for the question. See my earlier posts on Paying Your Gospel-Debt to the World for where I'm at in this transition.
In the end, I don't necessarily think there is any one particular right or wrong way to 'share' the gospel with someone, and I refer specifically to some sort of methodology which relies on certain words, phrases, outlines, levels, etc. Any of that, and all of that is important. But reliance on the Spirit is the most important, for He is the one calling the lost. And when I listen to His leading or prompting, I may be led to weave many things from my experience and knowledge-bank into my conversations and relationships in order to minister the gospel to them.
Now to complete the circle, am I against the Bibleman live adventure or things like that? Not necessarily. The entertainment factor definitely concerns me greatly. Again, I've grown up on the whole 'bait and switch' evangelism where I've offered big sporting events, free pizza, movies, or whatever, and then snagged about 10 or 15 minutes from their evening for a gospel presentation. I think those are good ideas, but used in a different way: play games, eat pizza, and watch movies in your home and then talk about the gospel throughout your time together. That way it doesn't come across as a bait and switch.
And I'm all for big gatherings like the Billy Graham or Greg Laurie crusades. By all means, let's get as many people together as we can to preach the gospel. But that's what I believe we should do for such a group - preach the gospel. If preaching is the only God-ordained means of sharing the gospel, then let's not pad it with other cheap stuff like entertainment, which doesn't adorn it properly. Let's let the gospel stand out in all its glory and wonder. And for those whom the Lord our God has called to believe in it, they will find it attractive and come to Christ and embrace His righteousness. But the rest will naturally be offended by the foolishness of the cross, and these we must leave to the Lord who will deal with them in His own good time.
Thanks 'T' for the question, and I trust it helps some as we both travel the road away from those things that do not shine their light upon the gospel in a way that beautifies it.
P.S. The things I write here are spoken from first-hand experience. I am the president of Christian School which our church runs as a ministry. Many of the children we have in our school, if not most, are not believers, and many come from broken homes. I know all our teachers personally and have a wonderful friendship with them all, including the administrator. They are all growing as am I, day by day, toward an experience between themselves and the students, which seeks to not only speak the gospel to them using biblical language, but also exposit and interpret the gospel with their own lives. I also coach a girls and boys basketball team. My encouters with a few of the girls, in particular, during our summer practices, have also been wonderful. Beneath the layers of what is typical for junior high and high school girls, some are struggling big time at home and with friends. By God's grace, they see something in my marriage and in my parenting (I don't know exactly what yet!), and we're already going pretty deep in our conversations about forgiveness, confession of sin, repentance, consequences of sin, etc., with a couple of girls. But I'm straggling along just like everyone else, doing the best I can, relying on the Spirit more than on certain methods (though I use methods, to be sure), and doing so with much immaturity, I can assure you!